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Makes sense, but aren’t we already doing this with massive refundable tax credits, in effect, massive transfer payments at tax time, to the tune of I think $2K per child per year, which is more than the average $4K casino dividend? One of the most difficult aspects of this problem is that no matter how much we want to help people, government’s cannot coerce the behavior of free people. As a foster parent I learned that half the people in jail or prison and half the people on welfare had some interaction with child welfare or spent time in foster care as children, meaning they lived in dysfunctional homes. I also learned that a huge percentage of drug abusers are in reality self medicating mental illness or dealing with the symptoms of their own childhood abuse or neglect. For all those people poverty is a symptom rather than a cause, nor does it account for the epidemic of single parent families nor a culture that intimidates those in their community trying to use education to escape poverty. I remember living in poverty, as a child and as an adult, and it certainly shifts your mindset and requires extraordinary attention to short term rather than long term goals, but as anyone who has ever achieved extraordinary success or won the lottery, giving money to friends and family members doesn’t actually change people’s ability to assess risk, and make better decisions. They almost always come back when they make the same mistakes again and end up in the same financial bind. It may, however, save their children from following in their path. What I think is criminal is the lack of access to basic mental health care, an issue not even addressed by Obamacare and poorly addressed by medicaid. I would argue that mental health care is a far more critical factor in ending poverty and emptying our prisons, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of kids making their way through the mindfield of the foster care system. We’ve spent several trillion dollars in our war on poverty, and the numbers are worse than when we started. Whatever we do, money by itself isn’t the solution.

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